XNN https://xkestrel.com The student news site of Xavier High School Sat, 14 Nov 2020 20:37:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.3 The Safety of the School: What Does the School Think https://xkestrel.com/4094/student-life/the-safety-of-the-school-what-does-the-school-think/ https://xkestrel.com/4094/student-life/the-safety-of-the-school-what-does-the-school-think/#respond Sat, 14 Nov 2020 20:37:00 +0000 https://xkestrel.com/?p=4094

The Coronavirus Pandemic is still a very real issue in Xavier High School, the state of Connecticut, and the United States. With a large number of students from Xavier taking online classes, either out of choice or necessity, the safety of the school might come into question. When it comes to the safety of the school, who better to hear from than the students that attend?

When asked if he feels safe at Xavier, Junior James DeDonato voiced his opinions saying, “Yes, I feel very safe at Xavier considering the different protocols and social distancing.” When asked if Xavier will close down, James said, “Yes, probably. I think it’s going to get to a point where other schools get mass cases, and Ned Lamont will have to do something about that.”

Freshman Jacob Diagle had similar thoughts. “I don’t feel threatened at all.” But he did not feel so sure if the school would stay open. “It’s just becoming an overwhelming situation. They [victims] might not get it [Corona] from school, they might get it from somewhere else.

“I believe from Thanksgiving to Christmas we will close down,” stated Junior Isaas Wolfgang. “I think [Xavier is] already spending days during Thanksgiving online, and the windows will be open if we stay at Xavier.”

Sophomore Zach Bulkovitch had quite the insight. “No wall can keep the virus out. We don’t really have an airtight building.” His opinion on closing was, “It’s not a matter of ‘if,’ it’s a matter of ‘when.'”

Sophomore Tristan Shemmerling had a lot to say. “I feel that Xavier has done a good job preventing Corona. It’s a good environment for me, without Corona. I think if the Corona pandemic goes up in percent, there will be a good chance we will close. With the protocols we set up and contact tracing, it’s been very controlled so far.”

Junior Michael Pitruzzello said, “I feel safe for myself.” However, he expressed different concerns. “I’m worried about hurting someone in my family. I think if there’s a large enough outbreak where it is more of a risk to be in school, we will close down.”

“We’re following safety protocols put out by the state. We’re doing the right things,” stated sophomore Dominic Cusano. Dominic also voiced his opinions on the possibility of closing. “It depends on what happens during the holidays. A lot of kids will come back from college, and there’d be a spike in cases. But as of right now, I feel we’ll still be open.”

When asked about the possibility of Xavier closing, Junior Joey Lane said, “I feel like for a little, but not for the rest of the year. I think especially after Thanksgiving, people would rather be safe than sorry.”

A few students said they think Xavier will close down despite feeling safe in the building. Freshman Colby Ciampi voiced his concerns saying, “I think we’ll be closing down. We had kids in the gym, we have a lot of kids going online. I think it’s going to be because so many kids are going to be quarantined, so it won’t be worth it going to school.” A student who wished to remain anonymous had similar opinions. When asked if the school would close down, he responded, “Yes, kids are getting quarantined.”

There were a small number of students who said they do not feel safe at Xavier. Another student who wished to remain anonymous said, “I feel like hallways are way too crowded. Go into the SJs [Saint Joseph Hall], kids are within inches of each other.” Sophomore Kyle Quartuccio, who does not feel safe at Xavier said, “I respect what they [Xavier staff] are doing. I respect how they did the hallways. I don’t think it’s effective, but I respect the effort. I think it will be easier for students and teachers if we go online.”

There were a few students from Mercy High School who also had opinions on the matter.

When asked if she feels safe at Mercy, Junior Shelby Johnson said, “Yes. There’s social distancing.” When asked if Mercy will close, she said, “Yes, probably. Cases are going up.”

Sophomore Katherine Lyons stated that she feels safe at Mercy but also said Mercy might close. “It’s a very contagious virus. There’s been a lot of cases in the Middletown area.”

Freshman Anna Johnson also feels safe. When asked if Mercy might close, Anna said, “Probably not, because Mercy doesn’t have any cases. There was a janitor that had it, but there’s not any student cases.”

It is clear to see that there are many different opinions on the level of safety in both Xavier and Mercy. Despite a small number of cases, the schools have managed to remain open without much trouble. Whether they will continue will stay open, only time will tell.

https://xkestrel.com/4094/student-life/the-safety-of-the-school-what-does-the-school-think/feed/ 0
Goodbye, Netflix – Sincerely, Michael Scott https://xkestrel.com/3997/uncategorized/goodbye-netflix-sincerely-michael-scott/ https://xkestrel.com/3997/uncategorized/goodbye-netflix-sincerely-michael-scott/#respond Sat, 07 Nov 2020 14:33:23 +0000 https://xkestrel.com/?p=3997

Rumors are that a famous show, The Office, might leave Netflix next year has been proven true. It appears that NBC will gain back its show, The Office, and place it in its new up-coming streaming network. Their new streaming network will have many NBC shows and different channels; it will look familiar to subscribers of Disney+ or Netflix or Hulu. As we’ve seen when Friends left Netflix, there is precedent for Netflix subscribers to be upset at a beloved show leaving. Seeing it’s a pretty popular and well-known show, this will hurt Netflix. Although there are similar shows still living on Netflix, such as The Community, they will never compete against The Office. The Office is an amazing sitcom series of a mockumentary show about a paper company called Dunder Mifflin and its hilarious workers, such as a paper salesman, an accountant, and a warehouse manager. It has had an incredibly long run with 9 seasons and high ratings. Since the pandemic has made everyone quarantine inside, people need shows to watch, so viewership has been at an all-time high during these past few months. It even made it to the top 10 shows people watch at one point.

Since the show ended, the actors have been kept busy, either with making podcasts, making it to the big screen, or even writing their own show. Most of the actors’ careers, such as John Krasinski’s, were made due to the series. John was just a waiter at a restaurant when he heard about auditions for the show he was interested in and wanted to apply. When he got the role he played as Jim, a paper salesman and one of the main characters on The Office. Ever since then, John has been in a number of films, such as BoJack Horseman, A Quiet Place, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. The Office even had some of its writers and editors cast in the show. B.J. Novak, Mindy Kaling, and Paul Lieberstein were writers that took part in coming up with episode ideas, but they were also Ryan Howard(B.J), Kelly Kapoor(Mindy), and Toby Flenderson(Paul), the trio located in the annex. The Office is an American classic, and its exclusion from the Netflix lineup next year will tear some people’s heart.

https://xkestrel.com/3997/uncategorized/goodbye-netflix-sincerely-michael-scott/feed/ 0
Teacher Spotlight: Ms. Kaufman https://xkestrel.com/4056/uncategorized/teacher-spotlight-ms-kaufman/ https://xkestrel.com/4056/uncategorized/teacher-spotlight-ms-kaufman/#respond Thu, 05 Nov 2020 20:15:20 +0000 https://xkestrel.com/?p=4056

Ms. Kaufman is the language department’s newest French teacher. Since she is the third consecutive French teacher since my freshman year at Xavier, the language department now has a higher turnover rate than the Trump administration. We caught up with her for an interview to include in our Teacher Spotlight series.

Have you worked in education before and if so, at which level?

I have, and at almost every level. I taught at high schools in Maine and Miami. After this, I taught international students in France who were preparing to enter the university system. After my children were born, I did not teach full time, but I taught a night program in California for older people that was much less intensive. Next, I taught AP classes in San Diego to fluent speakers.

What led you to teach French?

My grandmother was a French teacher at my Catholic school where I grew up, she was a role model for me. I actually majored in English and was an exchange student twice; once in Oregon and then at Penn State. By the time my second year in this country concluded, I knew I loved it, I wanted to stay, and that I had a passion for teaching. Despite all those factors, it was my fascination with English that originally drew me here.

How do you like Xavier?

I like it! It’s very different from where I’ve ever been, in a good way. It’s a different environment from where I have ever been before, an all boy’s school. Nevertheless, the sense of community is palpable and I think there’s something to be said for a school environment such as ours.

What has been challenging in transitioning?

I have experienced quite a few challenges, mostly tied to the fact that for the past four years, I have been home; so I had no commute. I’m used to being home for my children full-time, so transitioning from that to working full-time has been difficult. My husband’s help has been indispensible, and it’s a happy coincidence that due to the pandemic, he can work from home and help with the kids. More than difficult, the different dynamic took some getting used to. OnCampus was also very difficult to grasp at first. COVID obviously presented some challenges too, with the masks, classroom temperatures, and masks putting a significant damper on the social aspect of the class. I think the extent of the precautions taken by students is a testament to how much they truly want to be here.

Where did you go to college and what did you study?

I majored in English at the University of Lyons. This, as I said before played a larger part in my current circumstances than I ever could have imagined. Truly, my passion for English is what made me want to stay in the United States.

Any interesting hobbies?

I love to read, and cook a lot. I bake, I sew and my family and I enjoy outdoor activities. We enjoy hiking and rock climbing, we also kayak quite a bit. We enjoy traveling, exploring new places. Hopefully we can do that more as pandemic restrictions are relaxed!

Ms. Kaufman hopes to instill in students a passion for the French language and culture, and we at the Kestrel are excited to welcome her into the Xavier community.

https://xkestrel.com/4056/uncategorized/teacher-spotlight-ms-kaufman/feed/ 0
Devil All the Time Movie Review https://xkestrel.com/4121/uncategorized/devil-all-the-time-movie-review/ https://xkestrel.com/4121/uncategorized/devil-all-the-time-movie-review/#comments Thu, 05 Nov 2020 15:05:07 +0000 https://xkestrel.com/?p=4121

Directed by Antonio Campos, “Devil All the Time” is an uninteresting and bland tale about religion in the deep south that is saved through the use of impeccable acting and worldbuilding. The characters of the story are three dimensional and show an overflowing ark throughout the story that can be followed and interpreted in ways unique to each character. From the rusted vehicles to the crumbling and mold growing on the houses, the overall setting of the story is perfectly crafted and takes the viewer into the world of the film. What really carries the movie, however, are the stellar performances by Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgard, and Robert Pattinson. With each of the three actors molding themselves into the characters they are trying to depict through the perfecting of deep southern accents, emotions, and mannerisms, “Devil All the Time” should be labeled as a contender for Best Picture, but because of the focus on worldbuilding and the development of characters over the story, there is something missing. Campos tried to create a perfect example of modern cinema without focusing on the narrative and thematic aspects of the story.

There is an underlying theme of repetition hidden under the sinner’s flaws and misunderstandings. The movie starts off by following a father and son. The son doesn’t look directly up to his father as a hero, but instead uses his father’s teachings to establish his own morals. Both the father and the son will do anything, even if it is a terrible act, as long as it protects those that they love. Neither of them are intentionally evil people; they just wish the best for those around them. They even understand that what they are doing is wrong, but their own morals will not stop them from keeping those who they love safe.

Another example of repetition in the film is a mother and daughter who fall in love with the lies and false tales of the two preachers in the story. The mother and daughter both fall in love with preachers and are eventually killed by them. The mother is stabbed in the neck because her lover thought that God would allow him to bring her back to life if he committed this act (similar to the story of Abraham and Isaac where Isaac was sacrificed to God to test Abraham’s faith). The preacher thought that God was testing his faith and that after he killed her, she would come back to life. The daughter, on the other hand, was told to kill herself after she birthed a bastard child because of the shame that it would bring to her family and the thought of her family’s name being tarnished.

The last form of repetition in the story comes from a couple and the young men that they seduce. The couple offers hitchhikers a ride to whatever destination they want. The couple takes a break in the woods for a picnic and eventually offer the hikers sex with the wife as long as the husband is allowed to take photos of them. After having sex with the wife, the hikers are killed off and the couple goes off to find another person to seduce and kill.

The three actors that carry the movie consist of Tom Holland, Bill Skarsgard, and Robert Pattinson. Each of these actors brings a different take to characters that could have been bland and unoriginal. Sinners from the south are not very interesting topics just by themselves, but through the performances of each actor, they become personified through emotion and triumph. Each one of them shows that their characters do not believe that they are doing anything wrong and that they are doing it for the sake of others. For example, Tom Holland’s character, Arvin, is trying to protect his family and help those who are defenseless. Holland gives an incredible performance that is the highlight of the film in some regards. Holland’s character is delved into the most out of all of them and you can truly see the flaws and the thought process behind each of his decisions. Holland is disturbed with what he is doing but still continues doing heinous acts for the sake of others.

Skarsgard’s character is similar to Holland’s because he has the same moral beliefs as him. He wants to protect those around him and save them from all harm. This can be seen most clearly in the things that he is willing to do to protect his wife from death after she becomes sick. Skarsgard creates an alter in the woods of their home, with this alter symbolizing his mental fall. Over time just like Skarsgard, the alter begins to rot and becomes corrupted. Instead of the daily moments of reflection that it was used for, it is now used for the crucifixion of the family dog and the violent prayer ceremonies, that involved him screaming and tormenting his son. Saying that the son wanted his mother to die, and that he wasn’t praying hard enough to really save her. Throughout the short run time that Skarsgard’s character is involved with the film, he becomes completely twisted from his previous life and is a shadow of the person that he used to be.

Finally, Robert Pattinson plays the preacher who just comes to town. He is a smooth talker and, like the devil himself, is able to manipulate and control those around him. On the outside, he is a handsome, charismatic guy who is just trying to help the world through the gifts that he was given by God. Behind that bravado, however, is someone who is overcome by lust and wants all the earthly goods possible. Pattinson delivers his character with a southern rasp that does nothing but help strengthen his false identity. Pattinson became known for saying the line, “Delusions!” This summarizes his character as a delusion and the fact that he is not as good as everyone thinks that he really is.

The storytelling is simple and there is very little depth besides the creation of the characters and the plot. Everything is incredibly basic and can be easily followed by the viewer. Just by assuming and guessing the worst possible outcome for each character, the viewer is able to perfectly guess and tell the story for the rest of the movie. In directing the movie, Campos seemed to be more focused on building the world and trying to have the viewer fall into the atmosphere of the story rather than building a proper narrative. Besides the exceptional performances by Holland, Skarsgard, and Pattinson, there is nothing to separate this movie from any other. Because of these flaws and lack of storytelling, the movie is nothing more than a boring Oscar-bait.


Devil All the Time” at best is a 6.7/10

https://xkestrel.com/4121/uncategorized/devil-all-the-time-movie-review/feed/ 1
The Race to 300mph https://xkestrel.com/4090/uncategorized/the-race-to-300mph/ https://xkestrel.com/4090/uncategorized/the-race-to-300mph/#respond Thu, 05 Nov 2020 13:22:08 +0000 https://xkestrel.com/?p=4090

You are sitting in the cockpit of a vehicle. You are sitting low to the ground in your seat, strapped in tightly. Around you, there are flashing displays surrounded by intricate buttons and dials. Almost everywhere you look, you can see the shine of dark carbon fiber. The body of the craft you are in has been painstakingly developed for weeks, months, years. Every little detail has been debated and toiled over by countless engineers trying to ensure the success of the mission and your safe return home. You hear a voice through the radio in your headset begin to count down: 10… 9… 8… No, you are not in a spaceship that will carry you to the stars. But you are in a Bugatti Chiron. And as you firmly grip the leather in your hands, you know that the car you are sitting in, which is available to the public, is about to carry you through the air at 300mph using just four wheels and an engine.

In November of 2017, the Koenigsegg Agera RS achieved a top speed of 277.9mph on a closed-off 11-mile section of Route 160 in Nevada. The Agera RS is a two-door two-seater with a carbon fiber chassis and ground clearance as low as 85mm. The brainchild of Swedish engineer Christian von Koenigsegg, it sports a 5L V8 engine and a 7-speed paddle-shift transmission, as well as a dynamically active rear wing and active independent front flaps for increased downforce. The Agera RS’s 2017 run smashed the previous top speed record of 267.8mph held by the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport since June of 2010. Since the Agera RS’s record-breaking run, several car manufacturers have been racing for the 300mph milestone.

The manufacturers at the forefront of this fight for the record were Bugatti, Koenigsegg, and Hennessey. A number of lesser-known brands were chasing the elusive top speed as well, although most believed that it would be accomplished by one of the more prominent manufacturers if it was possible at all. Many skeptics had doubts regarding the durability of modern tires to handle the speed and the ability of engineers to produce an engine with enough horsepower.

On September 2, 2019, Bugatti announced that a version of the Bugatti Chiron had reached 304.773mph at the Ehra Lessien test track with Le Mans winner and test driver Andy Wallace in the driver’s seat. A GPS system recorded the run and car’s speed, which was verified by a third-party. So, how was Bugatti able to accomplish this?

First, there was the issue of tires. Bugatti collaborated with Michelin to develop a specially designed, street-legal set of Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires made with reinforced belts to handle the strain the speed would place on the tires. Bugatti held that Michelin tested the tires up to 317mph before the Chiron’s high-speed run took place.

Then there was the issue of the car itself. To the untrained eye, it may look like just another exotic car. But those familiar with the Chiron will see that the car used differs from the base Chiron in several ways. The front end of the car sports unusual front fenders with holes for airflow and differently shaped front intakes. In the rear, the exhaust tips are stacked two per side, there is a large diffuser, and the rear end as a whole is significantly longer than that of any version of the Chiron in 2019. The new variant contains Bugatti’s signature 8-liter W16 engine with 4 turbochargers, capable of outputting 1,500 horsepower, although it was likely altered to increase this figure. This new derivative is also lower to the ground than its predecessor.  Combine this amount of power with the lightweight materials used in the car, such as carbon fiber and titanium, and it is not difficult to understand how the Chiron could reach 300mph.

So that’s all, right? A production car has gone 300mph, time to go home. Not necessarily, says John Hennessey, the big boss at Hennessey Performance. He claims that because Bugatti only did a one-way run instead of a two-way run, meaning the Chiron hit 300mph in one run rather than running twice and getting an average speed of 300mph, they cannot officially claim the accomplishment and the plans regarding the Hennessey Venom F5 have not changed.

This seems to be the consensus among the rest of the competitors as well. The SSC Tuatara performed a two-way 331mph run in October of 2020. In addition, the new Koenigsegg Jesko Absolut is expected to break 330mph, although this is now somewhat less impressive due to SSC’s accomplishment.

Even Bugatti does not seem to be slowing down (I promise that was accidental), despite remarks that they are bowing out of the top speed competition. In October, they revealed the brand-new, monstrous Bolide, which has an expected top speed of 310mph. This may seem underwhelming, but the Bolide will be a track car only. Its statistics are not far off from that of modern Formula One cars; in other words, it is not built for record-breaking top speed.

In closing, the race to 300mph is over. Bugatti, SSC, and Koenigsegg have now all created cars that will surpass 300mph. However, even though the race to 300mph is finished, the race for higher and higher top speeds is accelerating (that was purposeful).

https://xkestrel.com/4090/uncategorized/the-race-to-300mph/feed/ 0
The Impact of the Lakers’ Black Mamba Jerseys https://xkestrel.com/4022/sports/the-impact-of-the-lakers-black-mamba-jerseys/ https://xkestrel.com/4022/sports/the-impact-of-the-lakers-black-mamba-jerseys/#respond Thu, 05 Nov 2020 13:11:13 +0000 https://xkestrel.com/?p=4022

On the morning of January 26th, 2020, a helicopter carrying the souls of Kobe and Giana Bryant, alongside nine others, crashed out of the sky over Calabasas, California. The entirety of the NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the world stood in condolence as they witnessed the heartbreaking tragedy of one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball. Kobe Bryant had passed away. Kobe, although deserving of deep encomium for his 18-time All-Star appearances, will most closely be remembered to all as 5-time NBA champion for the Los Angeles Lakers. After weeks of tributes had been poured in from the world, especially in the hearts of the Lakers fans, the world understood that a fire had been lit inside, a heavily debated greatest player of all time, LeBron James, and All-Star and mentee of Kobe Bryant, Anthony Davis. This season, this quest for a 4th championship for LeBron a 1st for Davis, and a 17th for the Los Angeles Lakers, was for Kobe.

After the coronavirus struck the world, the Los Angeles Lakers were left with little hope of a season, a season that meant so much to them. This changed when the NBA announced that the season would be resumed in a “bubble” structure in Orlando, Florida. Teams would be isolated from their family and society for about three months as they continued to fulfill their seasons. The Los Angeles Lakers went into the bubble knowing they had secured a spot in the playoffs, but still needed to clinch a 1st seed placement. The Lakers secured the placement by the end of the regular season and prepared to enter the playoffs. The first game in their playoff schedule was against the Portland Trailblazers, who the Lakers beat in a series 4-1. The Lakers had announced prior to the conclusion of their first playoff series, that if they made it into the second round, the “Black Mamba” jerseys would be unveiled, and thus, they were. The jerseys, designed by Kobe Bryant before his death for the team, featured a main black with gold trim along the sides and around the Lakers logo. A heart with a two in the middle was also placed In the corner of the jerseys, represented Kobe’s daughter Giana (Gigi). The Lakers handled their second opponent, the Houston Rockets, the same way they had handled their first, beating them 4-1 in their series. In this series, the Lakers won game 2 in their “Mamba” jerseys, gaining them their first playoff win in the Kobe Bryant designed jersey. The Lakers advanced to the Conference Finals, squaring off against a strong Denver Nuggets team along with their superstar front men, Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. Donning their “Black Mamba” jerseys, the Lakers came into game 2 of the series as always, hoping to win. Although it took nearly the entirety of the game, with 2.1 seconds left on the clock, Lakers point guard, Rajon Rondo, inbounded the ball to Anthony Davis for the win. Davis collected the pass from the three-point line, rose up for the shot, and knocked it down, winning the game for the Lakers. As Anthony Davis ran to celebrate with his teammates, cameras caught Davis yelling the name “KOBE!” as he rose to embrace his teammates. After the game, Davis was quoted by reporters as saying, “We never want to lose in these jerseys.”

The Lakers ended up winning the series 4-1 and advanced to the NBA Finals to play the Miami Heat. The Lakers wore their “Mamba” jerseys again in game 2, which they won. The Lakers again donned the jerseys in game 5, but, due to athletic heroics from Heat superstar, Jimmy Butler, Miami handed the Lakers their first loss in the “Mamba” jerseys. The Lakers would go on to complete their season winning the NBA champion in game 6 of the Finals, winning the series 4-2. Their quest for a championship, in a year that seemed so filled with pain, was recognized as the Los Angeles Lakers were 17 time NBA champions. The impact of the “Black Mamba” jerseys in this serious was largely felt, via a comparison provide by ESPN, Lakers stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis’s stats were compared to when they were wearing the “Black Mamba” jerseys and when they were not. Throughout the majority of the playoffs, LeBron and AD average 58.0 points per game in the “Black Mamba” jerseys, had a field goal percentage of 60%, and shot 3-point field goals at a percentage of 46%. With comparison to the other jerseys they wore, LeBron and Davis had 54.3 points per game in other jerseys, shot a field goal percentage of 55%, and shot 3-pt field goals at 35%. It should also be noted that in the playoffs, the Lakers boasted a record of 3-1 in the “Black Mamba” jerseys. The season dedicated to Kobe Bryant from the beginning, concluded in the most Kobe Bryant-esque way possible, a championship for the Los Angeles Lakers. The importance of Kobe to this team was best summarized by Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka, after the Lakers had won the championship. “There would be times in the middle of the night, I would hear his (Kobe’s) voice: ‘Stay the course. Finish the task.’ To be able to have a friend who changed my life and helped me understand what greatness was about and sacrifice was about, there’s not many greater gifts. To be able to share this moment right now, knowing that he and Giana are looking down from heaven, and I know he’s a proud friend – I know he is.”

https://xkestrel.com/4022/sports/the-impact-of-the-lakers-black-mamba-jerseys/feed/ 0
Eddie Van Halen: A Timeless Guitar Pioneer https://xkestrel.com/4086/uncategorized/eddie-van-halen-a-timeless-guitar-pioneer/ https://xkestrel.com/4086/uncategorized/eddie-van-halen-a-timeless-guitar-pioneer/#respond Thu, 05 Nov 2020 13:02:46 +0000 https://xkestrel.com/?p=4086

Eddie Van Halen, guitarist from the 80s hard rock band Van Halen, was a man who not many stereotypical “ordinary” or “everyday” people would recognize as anyone special. However, to one specific community, the life of this man and what he did with it would create a lasting impact beyond even his late passing in early October from prolonged throat cancer. 

 Millions of guitar players around the world have been mourning Eddie’s death and commemorating his career by making covers of his iconic guitar solos, such as “Eruption” and his solo in Michael Jackson’s “Beat it”. As a guitar player myself, I am saddened by the loss of this happy-go-lucky genius. Instead of dwelling on his expiration, it is better to focus on his life and legacy to more greatly appreciate the changes and positive impact he made on not just the guitar community, but on music lovers in general. 

 Born in Holland, Eddie was drawn to musicality from a very young age. At age 8, he moved to the U.S. Eddie’s father found him a “great piano teacher”, a “Russian guy named Stasskalvitis.” Eddie became somewhat of a prodigy and won first place at the annual contest three years in a row at Long Beach City College. As he grew older, he began to play drums in several bands, in all of which his brother played guitar. Then Eddie made the deciding factor in his career: he picked up the guitar. As Eddie said himself, “I wanted to play drums, but he (Eddie’s brother) was just better than me, so I thought ‘OK, I’ll play your damn guitar'”. 

 From then on, his future was set. His bands were driven by his Eric Clapton/Cream rootsEddie would go on to say Eric Clapton was his biggest inspiration, even though his playing sounds much different than Clapton’s. Then, in San Marino, California, Eddie met the future band members of Van Halen. His brother, Alex Van Halen, still played drums. Though the history of the band itself is highly interesting, Eddie’s innovations in the guitar world are more of what people think of when they hear the name “Van Halen”; even though I love the band members individually, I appreciate Eddie the most. 

 Unlike‌ ‌some‌ ‌other‌ ‌musicians‌ ‌of‌ ‌his‌ ‌time, ‌ ‌Eddie‌ ‌brought‌ ‌a‌ ‌very‌ ‌lighthearted‌ ‌and‌ ‌simply‌ ‌magical‌ ‌aura‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌band’s‌ ‌live‌ ‌performances‌ ‌and‌ ‌even to‌ ‌the‌ ‌songs. ‌ ‌As‌ ‌virtuoso‌ ‌solo‌ ‌guitarist‌ ‌Steve‌ ‌Vai‌ ‌has said‌ ‌about‌ ‌Eddie, ‌‌“He‌ ‌was‌ ‌able‌ ‌to‌ ‌touch‌ ‌us‌ ‌through‌ ‌his‌ ‌inner‌ ‌ear.‌ ‌The‌ ‌songs‌ ‌were‌ ‌obviously‌ ‌simple, ‌in‌ ‌a‌ ‌sense, ‌but‌ ‌just‌ ‌so‌ ‌touching. ‌ ‌You‌ ‌can‌ ‌hear‌ ‌the‌ ‌sweetness‌ ‌of‌ ‌his‌ ‌personality…” ‌These sentences‌ ‌encapsulate‌ ‌the universal‌ ‌‌credence‌ ‌‌that‌ ‌Van‌ ‌Halen‌ ‌touched‌ ‌and‌ ‌inspired‌ ‌his‌ ‌contemporaries, ‌in‌ ‌addition‌ ‌to‌ ‌countless‌ ‌future‌ ‌musicians, ‌to‌ ‌take‌ ‌on‌ ‌this‌ ‌air‌ ‌and‌ ‌not‌ ‌to‌ ‌dissemble‌‌ ‌their‌ ‌true‌ ‌emotions‌ ‌through‌ ‌their‌ ‌playing. ‌ 

 Though‌ ‌Eddie’s‌ ‌personality‌ ‌was‌ ‌simple‌ ‌and‌ ‌humble, ‌his‌ ‌guitar‌ ‌playing‌ ‌was‌ anything‌ ‌but‌ ‌that. ‌Somewhat‌ ‌‌unwonted‌ ‌when‌ ‌compared‌ ‌to‌ ‌his‌ ‌demeanor, ‌ ‌his‌ ‌playing‌ ‌was‌ ‌explosive‌ ‌and‌ ‌virtuosic. ‌‌The‌ ‌speed‌ ‌of‌ ‌his‌ ‌fingers‌ ‌was‌ ‌seemingly‌ ‌impossible‌ ‌to‌ ‌attain‌ ‌by‌ ‌any‌ ‌ “mere‌ ‌mortal”!‌ ‌Furthermore,‌ ‌Eddie‌ ‌innovated‌ ‌a‌ ‌style‌ ‌of‌ ‌guitar‌ ‌playing called‌ ‌“tapping”,‌ ‌involving‌ ‌taking‌ ‌the‌ ‌first‌ ‌digit‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌picking‌ ‌hand‌ ‌and‌ ‌pulling‌ ‌off‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ fretboard,‌ ‌creating‌ ‌a‌ ‌percussive‌ ‌and‌ ‌rapid‌ ‌succession‌ ‌of‌ ‌notes.‌ ‌He‌ ‌got‌ ‌this‌ ‌because‌ ‌he‌ ‌noticed‌ its‌ ‌‌propinquity‌‌ ‌to‌ ‌the‌ ‌pull-off‌ ‌technique‌ ‌used‌ ‌by‌ ‌Jimmy‌ ‌Page‌ ‌of‌ ‌Led‌ ‌Zeppelin, ‌‌and‌ ‌he‌ ‌decided‌ that‌ ‌he‌ ‌could‌ ‌elaborate‌ ‌on‌ ‌this‌ ‌so‌ ‌as‌ ‌to‌ ‌create‌ ‌an‌ ‌expressive, ‌recognizable‌ ‌sound‌ ‌that‌ ‌defined‌ ‌the‌ ‌band‌ ‌and‌ ‌the‌ ‌genre‌ ‌of‌ ‌music‌ ‌he‌ ‌pioneered.‌  

 A quote that, in my opinion, does justice to the sheer ferocity, godliness, and difficulty of Eddie Van Halen’s playing is one from Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine (about his nine-year-old son): “We were listening to ‘Eruption’, and he said, ‘Dad, no one can play that.’ I said, ‘Well…’ He said, “No, no, no. No one can play that.’ And I said, “You’re right, son. No one can play that.” Eddie’s passing is such a momentous and devastating thing in part due to his abilities with the guitar. The way he shredded incited awe, passion, and high admiration for Eddie and the power of the electric guitar itself. 

Eddie Van Halen was a sweet, gentle soul with a powerful, even animal purpose; but this animal drive was channeled into a well-honed arsenal of skills well-trained by a classical background. The versatility of Eddie’s guitar playing was something to aspire to. He was looked up to by many huge guitarists and practically worshipped by fans. The most important part of his career, in my opinion, is that he inspired people to pick up the guitar and learn. He made wanting to learn how to be great at the guitar, working at the skill, and putting hours in to reach potential a fun experience. Eddie was a true guitar hero and I am sincerely sorry at his passing. His legacy will live on in generations of guitarists to come.




https://xkestrel.com/4086/uncategorized/eddie-van-halen-a-timeless-guitar-pioneer/feed/ 0
Teacher Spotlight: Ms. Stanavage https://xkestrel.com/4079/uncategorized/teacher-spotlight-ms-stanavage/ https://xkestrel.com/4079/uncategorized/teacher-spotlight-ms-stanavage/#respond Thu, 29 Oct 2020 12:22:48 +0000 https://xkestrel.com/?p=4079

With the recent retirement of our long-time art teacher, Ms. Vitale, the Xavier community is excited to welcome Ms. Stanavage as our talented, new art teacher! The second you walk into her room you get a feel for what her class is all about. Spread out across the rooms are incredible drawings and paintings done by Ms. Stanavage herself! I was lucky enough to sit down with her and learn about her high school art teacher, her aspiration for learning Dutch, and some of her favorite artists.


What inspired your passion for art and made you want to teach it? Any artists that really inspire you?

“I was always inclined to art and I just naturally found myself making art or opting for projects that involved art. Then when I got into high school, my art teacher, Ms. Gibson, was just a fun art teacher that I looked forward to going to her class and challenged me as an artist. I found out that I really liked to draw animals and life. I got introduced to painting through one of the classes I had with her. Then in college, I ended up taking a lot of painting classes and I worked with a lot of wonderful professors that influenced my style of more realistic, accurate paintings. If I had to narrow it down to artists who currently inspire me it would be Kehinde Wiley, who did Obama’s presidential portrait. I think what he does and what his work stands for is really amazing and thoughtful and so necessary right now. It’s also absolutely beautiful in terms of detail and technique.


What were you doing before you worked here at Xavier?

“I guess we can start with high school, so I went to an AgroSciences program, where I majored in plant science and animal science, that’s where my passion for animals and plants came from. From there, I went to Central Connecticut State University and I majored in Art Education with a concentration in painting. During my time at Central, I worked at the Princeton University Art Museum in the education department, and then I worked at the New Britain Museum of American Art in the education department as well. I’ve had a little bit of museum experience trying to figure out if I wanted to work with museums. It’s really a whole different scene, but you get to interact with artwork all the time. And then also seeing the other side, seeing it as a student-teacher. It was a nice comparison, I definitely liked working with students and watching projects develop over time.”


Tell us a little about your background? Family, where you live, etc….

“I grew up in Colchester, Connecticut, and I still live there. I have an older sister, who is an AgroSciences teacher in Southington, and then a younger brother, who is a digital media design major at UCONN.”


What classes do you currently teach here?

I teach a variety of classes. I have an online art appreciation class, drawing, foundations of art, graphic design, illustration, and an AP Art class. Art Club is also almost becoming a teaching thing too. It’ll be great because I think it’ll be a nice opportunity for kids who can’t really get instruction of art into their schedule.


What are you looking forward to here most at Xavier and how are you liking it?

Well, something that drew me in was the community and the rigorous learning environment that they foster here. It really aligns with my philosophy of education and as someone who loves learning, that’s an environment that’s really enticing. So, I guess it’s the whole community of what Xavier means, and being your best person is what essentially tried to evoke in their students. I’m loving it here, it’s great!


What are your outside of school hobbies/activities?

I enjoy baking when I have the time. I’ve been picking up Dutch but, it’s been on pause though, with school and everything coming back. My little Duolingo owl misses me, he tells me that every day! Then I guess unrelated to art, trying to learn something new or gardening. I have house plants. Do I have success with them? Not really… There’s been a couple but there’s been a lot of deaths.


What is your favorite art piece that you’ve done?

I would say my favorite work of mine is my painting of my brother holding a sunflower that we grew. To me, it’s what feels most complete. Many people try to find a deeper meaning to it, but I just thought the flower was cool.


Once again, we are happy to welcome Ms. Stanavage to the Xavier community and are looking forward to her impact here. If you are not currently an art student, feel free to join Art Club, led by Ms. Stanavage in room 402 every other Tuesday. Hope to see you there!

https://xkestrel.com/4079/uncategorized/teacher-spotlight-ms-stanavage/feed/ 0
Presidential Wipeout Adventure Course https://xkestrel.com/4033/xavieronion/presidential-wipeout-adventure-course/ https://xkestrel.com/4033/xavieronion/presidential-wipeout-adventure-course/#respond Mon, 26 Oct 2020 13:29:22 +0000 https://xkestrel.com/?p=4033

Immediately following the second Presidential debate, Donald Trump took to Twitter to challenge Democratic candidate Joe Biden to a ‘Wipeout Adventure Course’ challenge to prove he is the more physically fit candidate. When asked about his proposal in a FOX News interview the next day, Donald said, “My physique is..tremendous..everyone knows it, everyone agrees…I will get up and flex right now, right now, and I’ll do it, they say it can’t be done, but I will..” Trump was then cut-off by the interviewer and informed that flexing would not be necessary. The conversation then moved on to Trump’s failure to condemn white supremacists, when which  Trump interjected, “I mean, I’m 6’2, the tallest President…probably…ever…maybe Lincoln, but he always had that top hat on, you have to wonder how much of his height was actually just his hat.” After 10 more minutes of inane rambling, the interview ended and was later described by the interviewer as, “kind of like some sort of coked-up smack talk.”

 To the surprise of many, and against the wishes of his campaign advisors, Joe Biden accepted Trump’s challenge, proclaiming “It’s on, jack,” during an MSNBC interview later that evening. The event was scheduled for October 25th at 6 PM Eastern time, just nine days before Election Day. On that date, tens of millions tuned in. Undecided voters across the country were on the edge of their seats. Trump won the game of rock-paper-scissors, so he was up first. The opening obstacles were the infamous ‘Big Balls,’ four massive rubber balls which one has to run across to the next platform. Trump started to shuffle off the starting platform before immediately tripping over his own foot, face-planting into the first ball, and plummeting into the water. Shockingly, Trump emerged bald; his hair had evidently dissolved in the water.

After Trump’s less than impressive performance, Biden walked out, sporting an Mr.T-Esque Mohawk and mud-chops with a massive gold chain around his neck, holding his arm above his head, playing ‘Despacito’ off of his iPhone. This would later be described by activist groups as a “truly sad and fleeting attempt to appeal to minority voters.” Biden later responded by reminding everyone he was Obama’s Vice-President.

Biden began by quickly running across the Big Balls, surpassing Trump’s distance. The next obstacle was the ‘Sucker-Punch Wall’; Biden took a deep breath before running across unscathed. Undecided Voters across the country were now leaning Biden, according to CNN live-polling. Unfortunately, while sizing up the next challenge, Joe got turned around, seemingly forgetting where he was. He began sprinting back towards the Sucker Punch Wall, this time getting rocked and flipping into the water below. Reports from Democratic Party insiders suggest a certain level of hope that the punch somehow “knocked the dementia out of him.”

Following Biden’s fall, a mysterious man wearing a “We are Q” T-shirt, screaming “Where are the children!” dashed onto the course, jumped into the water, and popped all four of the Big Balls, apparently looking for sex-trafficked children who had been strategically hidden by House Democrats. No children were found and the man was immediately brought to a mental hospital. The camera then panned over to a post-challenge interview with the two candidates, both drenched.  Biden, now insisting to go by “Mr. B,” and the newly bald Donald Trump bickered back and forth for a while. Trump claimed the starting platform was lathered in vaseline, causing him to slip. When a slow-motion replay showed him clearly tripping over his own foot, he claimed the Democrats must have changed out his shoes for ones two sizes too big. There was then a prolonged awkward silence, Biden still with his mohawk, mud chops, and chain, and Trump, still bald. It was unclear at this point who had won the challenge, but one thing was for sure: America had lost.


https://xkestrel.com/4033/xavieronion/presidential-wipeout-adventure-course/feed/ 0
How to Effectively Ruin A Student’s Life: A Comprehensive Guide for Teachers https://xkestrel.com/3984/xavieronion/how-to-effectively-ruin-a-students-life-a-comprehensive-guide-for-teachers/ https://xkestrel.com/3984/xavieronion/how-to-effectively-ruin-a-students-life-a-comprehensive-guide-for-teachers/#comments Thu, 22 Oct 2020 16:13:57 +0000 https://xkestrel.com/?p=3984

Hello! My name is Aidan, and I am a junior here at Xavier High School. I figured that as an upperclassman, I should probably do my job and share some advice, so I will. However, there’s a twist: I am here to help the teachers, not all of you foolish students.

In my time at Xavier, I’ve learned an abundance of information. I’ve learned physics, chemistry, civics, Spanish, religion, engineering, and much, much more. If only all of that was useful. What I’ve also learned a lot about what it takes to improve ruin a student’s life, which is by far the most important information one can learn. Now, where did I get this world-changing knowledge? Well, I won’t mention the mad dash from the temple guardians or being tortured by the Russians, but I can certainly tell you that my knowledge comes from a very reliable source. So, instead of the teachers teaching me, it is time to teach the teachers.

One of the first topics I would like to cover is extracurriculars. Extracurriculars are absolutely amazing for students. They provide breaks from school, allowing them to participate in the activities they love such as sports, art, drama, engineering, and more. But this is a problem. Students should not be allowed to have fun. School is their lives, and since they are alive, school does not end until they do, so there is no reason for them to have this “fun” that they keep talking about. However, I propose a solution: ban all extracurriculars! Without these breaks, students will be forced to constantly confront their depression and boredom (no, don’t be stupid; school definitely does not cause this). Unfortunately, I am having a hard time getting the signatures needed for Xavier to stop these activities, so I must activate my backup plan (I think this one has real merit):

Drown them in homework! No, not literally. As much fun as it would be to watch them struggle to stay afloat in the sea of assignments given to them, I’m pretty sure that counts as murder or manslaughter, so it’s best to stay away from that (at least for now). What I mean is give them so much homework that they cannot possibly find the time to participate in extracurriculars. Give them problem after problem, essay after essay. Do not let up until their spirits have been thoroughly crushed. My goal is that homework envelops their lives, imprisoning these disgusting children until summer comes and takes them from our hands. I remember as a freshman I would get around an hour or two of homework a night, but that is nothing. That is like going to the gym and doing a push-up before you turn around and go home. It’s just embarrassing, both to the student and to the teacher (really, you should be ashamed of yourself). You should be forcing those despicable creatures to do hours of work a night. Make them work so hard that it is no longer homework, but rather schoolwork since school will never end for them. You should consider yourself a failure if you allow them to sleep for longer than an hour a night. However, I understand that it’s a pain to do all that grading, so that brings me to another way you can prepare torture your students: Make them study!

We all love having impossible tests, so make your tests so difficult that they must study for eons only so that they can get a measly 30 on them. You can add topics and problems they have not yet covered to your tests, making them realize they did not just fail, but that they should have studied the whole textbook instead of the hundred pages you assigned them to read. Let them languish in their seats as they realize how impossible their task is. Delight in their pain. Delight in their pathetic GPAs. Delight in their tears as they realize all hopes of achieving the Brother Celestine award, high honors, and even honors has just been lost to them. To further their pain, collaborate with your coworkers to ensure that they all have exams on the same day. Instead of just fearing your test, they will fear all of the tests! They may ask you to move your test, but do not budge. It should be your proudest day when you finish grading the tests only to find that nobody has passed, and when they complain about all the tests they had to study for and how the test did not reflect what they learned, do nothing. Or, if you wish to mock them, curve their test by only a point just to irritate them. They may say the curve is insufficient, but you can just cast their complaints aside like the trash it is. You should bask in the glory of being an evil tyrant. What’s better than a dictator? Absolutely nothing! This leads me to my next point:

Make school as boring as possible. Our school has a wonderful policy of JUG, the feared punishment that leaves you sitting in your chair for an hour, wondering how badly you messed up to deserve being sentenced to JUG. I find it extremely satisfying to watch the wrongdoers languish in their boredom (Note to self: stop staring through the window at the kids in JUG). However, JUG is only the tip of the iceberg. Imagine not just an hour of sitting there in absolute silence, but a full day! You should give them notes and classwork, but you must also forbid them from talking. If they utter a single peep, even if there is a fire, you should silence them before sentencing them to the dungeons for a thousand years. If they have the audacity to try again, bring out the electric chair. If they cough or sneeze, break out the whip. A hundred lashes will help build character and discipline. If they have the nerve to raise their hand and ask a question, you must break out the guillotine (no, capital punishment is not excessive for this “minor” infraction). However, I understand that the silence can cause you boredom as well, so I have another proposition, this one especially well suited to all of you narcissists out there:

Lecture all class long without any breaks. The only thing better than absolute silence is the sound of your own voice. Therefore, you should never pause your lectures. Speak until your voice is hoarse and your throat dry, and when that happens, consume the tears of your students to help ease the pain. Let your voice be their music of hell, a never-ending choir that perfects their unhappiness. Even better is when you have third period: it allows for eternity to feel even longer! (Connection: you must remember that the notes you have on the board should not be related to what will be on the test, but rather the things you say only once are what appears.) They may try to revolt, but you must be strong. You must be absolute in your ruling.

You need discipline. Make the students tremble in fear of solecisms and minor infractions. Make their blood run cold as they realize that their top button is undone or their shirt untucked. Have them weep in sadness as they realize they must stay after because they forgot to bring materials to class. Enforce a mandatory silence that would make Carthusian monks proud. And, if they dare speak, cast them into the 10th Circle of Hell, the deepest and most foul pit in Hell reserved only for the most unruly students so that they may be properly punished. Rule by fear, punishing when necessary, and that fear shall make them obey you.

Well, I hope I have provided you with an effective guide on how to ruin a student’s life. Just in recap, we covered how teachers should do their best to eliminate extracurriculars, overwhelm students with studying and homework, savage their mental health by giving them impossible tasks, make your class as boring as possible, whether it is by enforcing silence or by constantly lecturing until their heads are filled with useless information, and lastly, ensure that they are properly punished and disciplined. Hopefully, all of you readers adopt these policies, improving your ability to ruin a student’s life. Once again, as a result of my extensive research, I have created this comprehensive guide for teachers on how to ruin a student’s life. I wish you luck.

https://xkestrel.com/3984/xavieronion/how-to-effectively-ruin-a-students-life-a-comprehensive-guide-for-teachers/feed/ 2